Seo content

Content delivery, speed and accessibility

When working with clients on optimizing their websites for the Chinese market, a common early conversation is about the Great Firewall and how to effectively serve content in China.

the Large firewall is a term used to describe content censorship in China. When we talk about SEO for Baidu, it is also a very misused and misunderstood term.

Websites hosted outside of China previously suffered from slow load times, but most websites loaded slowly regardless of their origin.

Not so long ago, internet speeds in China averaged 700 / kbps, while internet speeds averaged 3,812 / kbps in the UK and 4,684 / kbps in the US.

As a result, this has led users to expect pages to load slowly, so a habit of opening multiple tabs or items in new tabs has formed, a user behavior that occurs. still produced today.

Speed ​​is not so much of an issue in China anymore, with average speeds 91.88 / mbpss on the desktop. That said, there are a number of other considerations to take into account when optimizing your site for Baidu and Chinese users.

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Indexing in Baidu is also presented as a difficult challenge, but it is not.

It is true that Baidu has different criteria from Google, but these criteria can be met and your site indexed.

In fact, Baidu themselves say that:

“Most websites on the Internet are not included in Baidu at all. It’s not that Baidu couldn’t find them, but they were filtered out before entering the database.

So, how do you avoid being filtered even before you have created the Baidu database?

Understand the major factors in firewall ranking and site speed

The Great Firewall is often used in conversations to relate to the speed at which websites (hosted outside of China) load in the country. However, this is not the complete picture.

China, like most countries, has varying internet speeds. While your site might load well in Beijing, it doesn’t necessarily load as quickly or is not as accessible in other big cities like Chongqing.

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You can test your page loading speed in Chinese regions using tools like Webaka. (This is only available in Chinese and you will need to run Flash.)

Chinese Webaka Regional Speed ​​Test Tool

Page load speed is an important factor for Baidu. It is also a factor in the way Baidu treats the page in the database.

Again, coming back to Ziyuan:

“If the web page load speed is too slow, the page may be treated as a ‘short page’. It is important to note that the ad load time is also counted during the overall load time of the web page.

This means that if you are not fast, Baidu might not even index your page.

The Great Firewall acts as a censorship barrier against:

  • Reputable websites publish politically sensitive content.
  • Some social media / self-publishing platforms hosted outside of China.
  • Any other content deemed inappropriate by the Chinese government. This includes a number of websites that we take for granted, such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Chinese Wikipedia, and some major publications (eg, The New York Times).

However, sometimes websites that do not contain political or “sensitive” content may fall under the firewall, and all websites outside of China may be intermittently slow to load or fully accessible.

The frequency of these problems tends to correlate with political events in China, with more disruption and trouble at sensitive times.

In November 2014, the EdgeCast CDN network was blocked, which means their customers (including Atari, Magento, WordPress, Pokemon, and Tumblr) will likely have experienced organic outages and performance issues in China.

“Please note that we are having issues delivering content to the China region due to the suddenly increased restrictions imposed by the Chinese government. If you receive reports of end users who cannot view content from China, please contact our Network Operations Center to discuss your options.

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This disturbance also correlates with the timing of the fourth plenum, which took place a few weeks earlier.

For this reason, it is important to first understand if the website you are looking to optimize is accessible in China. You can check this with a tool, such as GreatFire.org.

Due to the intermittency and volatility of the firewall, performance degradation can sometimes be attributed to a period of being blocked or measured by the firewall – and in these cases there is little you can do. .

Baidu and HTTPS

The adoption of HTTPS in China has been much slower and less prominent than in the United States and other markets.

Baidu announced full support for crawling and indexing HTTPS protocol web pages in 2015, then in the summer of 2016, they again updated Baidu-spider to better handle HTTPS.

Similar to Google, Baidu claims a small performance advantage in ranking server content safe for users.

Baidu and JavaScript

While Google and Bing have improved a lot at crawling content served via JavaScript, Baidu-spider still has a long way to go.

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At Ziyuan, Baidu’s own knowledge base, states that although users may view rich content served through JavaScript, Baidu will abandon any attempt to index the content due to the technologies used.

This includes AJAX content, JavaScript links, JavaScript language selectors, or anything else that hides JavaScript content or links.

Baidu and CDN

If you’re having trouble with site speed in China, leveraging a CDN might not be the worst idea.

In addition to speed improvements, CDNs can also offer other benefits such as advanced security, availability, and SEO features.

When it comes to choosing a CDN for China, you have three options:

  • A global CDN (as part of your larger international strategy).
  • A local Chinese CDN.
  • A local self-service CDN.

Global CDNs for China

As part of your larger international strategy or general tech stack, you may already be using a global CDN.

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However, the Chinese government may decide to block a global CDN (as with the EdgeCast example discussed earlier in the article).

It’s also important to note that not all global CDNs work in China, but those that include Quantile, CDNetworks, Akamai, and Amazon Cloudfront.

Chinese CDN providers

If you are not on a global CDN, or your website infrastructure has the Chinese version of your site “outside” of the main configuration, you can use a local Chinese CDN provider.

These generally perform better in China, due to their location, but any global CDN with a full Anycast network and locations in China would perform at a high level as well.

Two popular Chinese CDNs to choose from are:

Chinese self-service CDN

These CDNs may be more affordable than a global CDN, but you may inherit more technical debt and require more in-house setup work, as these are mostly self-service solutions.

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The top three suppliers in China are:

Loading resources

Like CDNs, it is important that resources (JS and CSS libraries) are not loaded from a Google CDN or other Western CDN.

These CDNs can be easily blocked or measured from China (through the Great Firewall), which will slow down your web pages loading and risk being deleted from the index.

The best practice would be to load your JavaScript and CSS libraries for your Chinese site from libraries hosted in China, such as UpYun.

Summary

In short, how efficiently you serve your content in China can impact your organic performance in Baidu and whether Baidu chooses to index pages.

However, the three golden rules are:

  • Make sure your pages load quickly.
  • Make sure the main body links and content are not served through JavaScript.
  • Stream your content through a CDN (to be sure).

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More resources:


Image credits

Screenshot taken by author, October 2019